CULTURE: 5 South American Wine Hotspots to Visit

Learn more about South America's wineries and culture before you decide which place to go.Learn more about South America's wineries and culture before you decide which place to go.

By Mark Davis from Tango Tours – Although South America has been making wines since the 1500s, a lot of wine lovers are yet to experience it. Moreover, South America is not known for its wines alone, it boasts of a breath taking scenic beauty and a splendid culinary scene.

South America has been associated with wines for centuries, however, initially it started off with producing wines only for religious purposes. However, viticulture made its way from Peru into Chile first and then spread to Mendoza in Argentina. It was only in the 1800s that the continent started making the Malbecs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Carmenere which it is famous for.

If you are a first time visitor to South American wine countries you will need to do some research to know its wine regions better. Some of the most popular wine countries in South America are Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. Here’s a country-wise list to help you decide what all you can do on your first trip to South American wine countries.

#1. Explore Argentine Vineyards

Photo (c) Argentina Travel 2017

The wine regions are also swarming with wineries offering exciting wine tasting tours. Photo (c) Argentina Travel 2017

Argentina, like Chile is still transforming as a wine country. A lot has changed in the recent years with the emergence of new wine regions, and wine varieties. Wine makers are still continuing with their winemaking experiments to discover more exquisite blends.

The wine regions are also swarming with wineries offering exciting wine tasting tours.

Mendoza is the most important wine producing region in Argentina and the presence of wineries like Bodegas Callia, Bodegas López, Bodegas Salentein etc. makes it all the more attractive. Besides the wine tours, you can also take a walk at the General San Martin Park in Mendoza or grab a snack at Mercado Central. There are also several cooking classes for tourists who are willing to try something new.

#2. Taste the Chilean Wines

Photo (c) NY Times 2014

Chile has also gone through a great amount of transformation in terms of wine producing. Photo (c) NY Times 2014

Chile and Argentina are located on both sides of Andes. Chile has also gone through a great amount of transformation in terms of wine producing. While visiting its wineries you would learn about how wine makers are trying to develop their wines according to the changing preferences of the consumers. It produces high quality Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah and chardonnay as you head more towards the Pacific Coast. You can also visit Valparaíso, Chile’s historic harbor city and the coastal wine regions of San Antonio and Casablanca.

Wineries like Concha Y Toro, Cousino Macul, Errazuriz etc. are among the most popular wineries in the region.

If you are in Chile you should also make a trip to the Atacama desert, which is considered the driest desert of the world.

#3. Go for the Brazilian Sparkling Wine

Photo (c) Diario de Cultura Argentina 2016

Despite its hot and humid climate for being closer to the equator, Brazil has been producing splendid sparkling wines which even attracted investors like Moet & Chandon. Photo (c) Diario de Cultura Argentina 2016

Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country and is also one of the New World sparkling wine countries to watch out for. Despite its hot and humid climate for being closer to the equator, Brazil has been producing splendid sparkling wines which even attracted investors like Moet & Chandon. Bento Goncalves, located to the south, is similar to Italy’s Piedmont hillsides and is the choicest wine producing region in Brazil. However, the state of Rio Grande do Sul is dotted with several other wine regions that are worth exploring.

In total, the country has about 1000 wineries.

While your wine tour must include several wineries, a trip to Brazil would be incomplete without a visit to its top tourist attractions. These include the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro, the Iguacu Falls located at the point where Brazil meets Paraguay and Argentina or the famous Amazon rain forests.

#4. Discover the Wine Culture of Uruguay

Photo (c) Bodega Vistalba 2015

Uruguay has a large number of vineyards spread over its length and breadth. Photo (c) Bodega Vistalba 2015

Uruguay could be the second smallest country in South America. But it is considered one of the major wine producing regions of South America and is famed for its prestigious wines.

Uruguay has a large number of vineyards spread over its length and breadth. However it is mostly concentrated near the warm, coastline region which are regularly cooled by the sea breezes.

Wine production is the heaviest in the Canelones region, which includes coastal areas like Maldonado, San Jose and Colonia. You can go wine tasting at some of the famous wineries in Uruguay, like, Juan Toscanii E Hijos, Establecimiento Juanico, Alto De La Ballena etc. Tannat, which is a French variety, is the star wine in Uruguay. It arrived in Uruguay centuries ago. This high tannin, robust variety of wine was turned more supple due to the warmer climate. It can be blended with Pinot Noir or Merlots to make a lighter wine.

#5. Learn More About Winemaking in Peru

Photo (c) TX Wine Lover 2015

In fact, most of the grapes produced in Peru are used up in the production of Pisco. Photo (c) TX Wine Lover 2015

Machu Picchu is not the only thing Peru is known for. Wine lovers also find this place quite tempting for its warm climate wines. Uruguay has a rich history in winemaking and there were even times when salaries were paid in volumes of wines.

Peru has a tropical climate, which means vineyards are mostly located at higher altitudes, so that grape production can thrive in the cooler conditions. Although, wine production is not as glorious as it once used to be, wine lovers still find a variety of warm climate wines like Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, most of the grapes produced in Peru are used up in the production of Pisco.

The top wineries in Peru includes Tacama, Bodegas Vista Alegre, El Catador Bodega Turistica etc. You may have to shell out a minimum amount of $25 if you are looking to try Pisco neat. For cocktails the price usually starts from $20. Besides you wine tours make trips to places like Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Peru’s capital city Lima etc.

Unique Ambient and Taste

Photo (c) Via Gourmet 2010

For wine tours, learn more about the region’s wineries and wine culture before you decide which all place to go. Photo (c) Via Gourmet 2010

Make the most of your South American holiday by combining wine tours with other exotic locales. South America offers a unique blend of historical cities, natural beauty and wine production.

Pick and choose the places you want to visit and chalk out a proper itinerary. For wine tours, learn more about the region’s wineries and wine culture before you decide which all place to go.

You can also choose to keep you schedule a less hectic. The beaches or the mountains offer a breathtaking visage and you can simply lie back and enjoy your wine by savoring the view in front of your eyes.

*************

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Mark Davis, the managing partner of Tango Tours and Tango Food and Wine Company, is obsessed with providing the best customer experience. He has been running Tango Tours since 2014. Mark started Tango Tours after over 20 years as a sales and marketing manager at a major U.S. airlines and traveling extensively throughout the world.
Also, he was in the wine importing business as a partner in Tango Trading Company. Their company specialized in wines of Argentina. The wine importing business is when he first developed many of his contacts in Buenos Aires and Mendoza and his knowledge and passion of Southern Hemisphere wines.
It extremely important to Mark that his guests have the ultimate food and wine experience as well as experiencing the local culture.